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Identity Crisis

1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭KJV – “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”‭‭‬‬

I have an exercise for you today – get out a piece of paper and write “I AM” on the top of it. Then below that, I want you to write words that describe you – character traits, career choices, hobbies – anything and everything that describe you. Then, I want you to cross out all the words that describe your personality, your career, your hobbies and anything else that describes you. Now, I know that you are thinking, “Good grief Melissa, that was dumb to write it all down and then cross it all out.”

Here is the point –

We tend to think of ourself in certain ways. We see ourself as defined by words that man has made up to describe things and actions. But is that really who you are? Are you really nice? If I had to guess, if you’re like me, not all the time. Are you really hard-working? If you’re like me, laziness creeps into your life sometimes. You see, the words that we describe ourself with are temporary and unreliable. In reality, they limit us. They put us in a box or in a column that restricts who we can truly be. 

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, oh dear, you are so much more than adjectives on a page. You have been created and designed for a special purpose that it is your duty to fulfill in this life we live on a daily basis. Adjectives on a page don’t begin to describe the beauty and purpose that God has in store for you.

BUT, you have to make a choice. You see, you can see yourself as the world sees you all day long. Or, you can see yourself in the Light of Heaven and find freedom. 

Those adjectives you used to describe yourself are bars around you that keep you from reaching your full potential. The world will tell you – “It’s your life. Live it how you want to live it.” Oh, that may sound like freedom and options and all sorts of wonderful things, but in reality, when you are in control of your life and you are trying to figure out how to live it, things get messy and restrictive. 

But when you let Jesus drive your life, when you let Him describe who you are and what He wants you to do and how He wants you to do it, things begin to loosen up. You are no longer bound by the limits the world places on you. You are allowed to dream big and hope fully. And you can do this because you don’t have to worry about how things are going to work out. You know that when Jesus is in control that everything works out in His time and according to His will. You just have to follow and not stray onto your own path. 

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately trying to tell me how to be the best version of myself and how to improve my quality of life and so on. But the one thing that all of these “professionals” have failed to mention is the importance of Christ in my daily life. He is the One who makes every little thing I do worthwhile. 

So, today is Thursday. The weekend is just around the corner. Take some time to think about how you see yourself. And then, ask Jesus how He sees you. And then, make His perspective, your perspective. When you realize that your identity isn’t found in the limits of the world, you’re scope opens up in a whole new way. “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:26‬ ‭KJV)

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Chocolate cake

‭‭James‬ ‭4:13-17‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
It is a problem that we all are guilty of participating in at some time or another – choosing not to do what is right when we know better. Yes, I know, it is also known as sin – intentional sin, at that. 

Let me set up the situation.

Let’s say that you know that you have a few pounds you need to lose. It is not drastic, you just know that if you lost them (and never found them again) that you would feel better physically and emotionally. But you are at an event and they are serving chocolate cake – your all time favorite dessert. You know that you should not eat that cake. You know that it will show up on the scale tomorrow morning. You know that it is too late at night and eating that cake will result in a restless night of sleep. You know all these things. You have rationalized it over and over again in your mind. Yet…you still eat it. You really, really, really want that chocolate cake. You know the consequences and yet you do it anyway. Sin has caught you with a fork!

I tell you this to say intentional sin is tough. We can push unintentional sin under the blanket of a forgiveness prayer. But when it comes to the sins we commit knowingly, well, that requires more effort to get rid of. Yes, I know, I’m stepping on your toes, but guess what, mine are paining too!

The problem is that it is these sins that are keeping us from a closer walk with Christ. These sins will build a wall between you and Him that if left unchecked will cause serious problems down the road. That is why it is so incredibly vital that we keep that wall destroyed. It’s like letting weeds grow in a garden. If you don’t stay on top of them and get rid of them when they pop up, before you know it, the garden is overtaken with weeds and you have to spend an enormous amount of time locating what it is that you planted one day, way back when. 

So my challenge to you, and to me, is to keep those intentional sins in check. Or better yet, when you hear that still, small voice saying “don’t do it…don’t do it”, then…don’t do it. God wants you listen to Him. He wants to guide you on the path of righteousness but He won’t make you make the right decision. He wants you to do that on your own. Gotta love free will. 

But it can be done. You can say “no” to that chocolate cake. You can walk away knowing that tonight there will be no consequences because you made the right choice! 

On the field

Mark‬ ‭5:19‬,20 ‭KJV – “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”‭‭

Last night, my son made a presentation to our church regarding his recent trip to Haiti. He showed pictures, told stories and spoke about how this trip impacted his life. 

He challenged us all to be more satisfied and content with our life. We have so much and there are people around the world that have so little. But their lack of “stuff” doesn’t bother them. They are content. They are satisfied with the little that they have and are grateful for the extras that they receive. It really is all about perspective. 

And then our pastor challenged us in a different way. 

The mission field in Haiti is important, don’t get me wrong. But what about the mission field just outside our door? What about the mission field around us each and every day? What are we doing about that? 

A friend of mine once referred to my job as my mission field. I smiled and nodded at the time but the words crept into my heart and took root. What if you saw your job as your mission field? What if the people around you became your ones to shepherd in your eyes? How would that change things? Would you do things differently?

I know in my life when I decide to see the people I come in contact with as those on my mission field, my perspective changes. I’m no longer shy about sharing Christ with them. I find ways to work Jesus into the conversation. I make a point to share God working in my life with them. I’m not overly concerned with how they see me. I’m just taking the opportunities provided to me. 

It’s a paradigm shift. You change from seeing these people as ones who help you get your work done or ones that you have to treat to people who need Jesus and you’re the one bringing Him to them. 

So this week, I want to encourage you to 1) be content – be satisfied with what God has blessed you with and 2) change your perspective – see your job as a mission field. Let God show you how to serve Him on your mission field and how to be satisfied in the life He has given you.

“Walk Worthy”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:12‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
It has been a while, yes, I know. Things have been a bit crazy at my house. I’m trying to get accustomed to reading through the Bible in a year. Some days have really long chapters that don’t leave me much time to write. I’ll get it figured out though. Just might take a while. 

Let me tell you about some challenges that my family has faced in our walk lately.

Saturday, my daughter had a cheer competition. The team did very, very well – they weren’t perfect or spot on, but very good. Their routine had a high level of difficulty and they executed it fairly well. They received 3rd place with this presentation. Now, that is good, right? Third out of 5 is not too bad. The problem is that the team that won had a much less difficult routine than our girls. And the team that got second didn’t even have a cheer in their routine for a cheerleading competition. Now, walking “worthy of God” in this situation was tough. My daughter felt cheated. She felt betrayed by the judges who were seemingly not looking for the team to challenge themselves. She cried a lot. And at the end of the night, my husband and I declared them champions regardless of what the judges said. But she still kept crying. Then comes the talk. “It’s okay to be sad. You have tonight to be sad. But when tomorrow comes and you wake up, the time has come to move on. You can’t dwell on this and let the devil has his heyday.” And you know what? The next morning my daughter woke up puffy eyed and ready to face the day with a whole new attitude. I am stilll trying to walk “worthy of God” in this situation. It is hard to watch your children go through this kind of thing and lead them in the path of righteousness.

 Yesterday, we sent my son off on his first missions trip – to Haiti. Now, I am super excited for him. I am not worried about him at all. I am so very excited to see what God is going to do in his life. This challenge in our walk comes from not being with him on this journey. We can’t really communicate with him, except via his friend with an international plan. But I don’t need to talk to him everyday to know that God loves and cares for him more than I ever could. I know that God sees him. God knows my heart. He hears my prayers on his behalf. 

So, as you can see, things have been a bit hairy around my house – I’m sure that it is the same way around yours. But that doesn’t give us an excuse to do anything other than “walk worthy”. It is a call to do so through the tough times in life as well as through the less challenging times of life. It is a call to live with God. It is a call to walk with God. Today, as you face your Wednesday and all the fun it holds, “walk worthy” and walk with God. It makes the journey to Heaven that much sweeter.

A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Happy 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was lovely and your New Years was fun. We had a great time visiting with family and sharing memories together. 

One of the presents that I got this year was a vanity mirror – you know the ones that light up and magnify to show every imperfection on your face. I love it! Now I can really see time marching across my face! No, seriously, I really wanted one. I was practically sitting on my bathroom counter trying to put on eyeliner. This is going to be a great help.

But it made me consider another type of glass – the one mentioned here in James. Oh, this glass shows way more imperfections that my magnifying mirror will show. And these imperfections hurt. The ones I see in my mirror just remind me that I’m not 20 anymore. 

The imperfections I see in myself that are reflected by the Perfect Law of Liberty remind me that I’m not done growing yet. I have faults, failures and shortcomings that need to be addressed. I see opportunities missed and conversations squandered. But I also see successes and accomplishments. I see places where I have been obedient. I see times when Jesus was smiling on me.

Today is the first day of 2018. It is a time for goals and/or resolutions. It is a time for reflection and thinking ahead. Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a good, hard look in the mirror…of God’s Word. It is the perfect day to start a Bible study, begin reading through the Bible, start that journal you have been thinking about, begin that prayer time that has been convicting your heart – whatever the burden God has laid upon your heart to begin doing, do it today!

And when you get up to do the other things that this day is bringing, don’t forget what you saw in the mirror of God’s Word. Let it penetrate and change you. Let it open you up to His will for your life. Let Him have control this year. Live like you believe.

Separation Anxiety

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

We have a little boy that comes to our church with his family. He sits with them in the pew just to my left. He is the cutest little thing. He is just coming into his personality and really beginning to interact with others. It is so cute to watch – again.

Last night at church, my husband went to ring the bell for our study time to be completed. When he left the sanctuary where we were having class, this little guy got very upset. He pointed. He whined. He squealed. Generally, he did everything in his power to express that he was not happy that this man who had been grinning at him had left. The big white thing (door) had swallowed him up. He wanted to leave and make sure this man was coming back. 

Why are we not like that with God? Too often, and way too easily, we walk away from God. We allow the devil to shut the door to all things pertaining to God. Out of sight, out of mind. We don’t get anxious about it. We just think “no big deal, I’ll get back to that later. I have other things I want to do right now.”

We need separation anxiety when we get away from God. I think that if more people experienced a sense of fear and stress when they don’t have Jesus walking their everyday life with them that we might not get so far away before realizing we strayed. 

In a way, separation anxiety can be a good thing. It means that we are paying attention. It means that we have chosen to allow someone to get close to us. It means we have interacted with them and made a connection to someone. And we recognize when they are not around. 

Do you recognize when God isn’t active in your life? Do you recognize when He is active in your life? Have you made a connection with Him that stretches when you turn aside? Are you interacting with Him and allowing Him access to your life?

I know that separation anxiety in my life with Christ isn’t as strong as I would like it to be. It’s an area to grow and work on. 

This week, be aware. Pay attention to your spiritual life. Recognize when things seem a bit off. And then, make a fuss. Do whatever it takes to get back to that right relationship with Christ. Trust me, He is always waiting just on the other side of the closed door. 

The Beautiful Star

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Al Phipps

Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                                                           Shinning far through shadows dimmed.                                                                                                                                                             Giving the life for those who long have gone on.                                                                                                                                           Guiding the wise men on their way.                                                                                                                                                                          Unto the place where Jesus lay.                                                                                                                                                                                 Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope of light.                                                                                                                                                                       Guiding the pilgrims through the night.                                                                                                                                                                   Over the mountains ’till the break of dawn.                                                                                                                                                            Into the land of perfect day.                                                                                                                                                                                            It will give out a lovely ray.                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star (beautiful, beautiful star) of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                 Star of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Shine upon us until the glory dawn.                                                                                                                                                                        Give us a lamp to light the way.                                                                                                                                                                                  Unto the land of perfect day.                                                                                                                                                                                       Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope, the grace.                                                                                                                                                                        For the redeem of good and blessed.                                                                                                                                                                      Yonder in glory when the crowd is one.                                                                                                                                                                    Jesus is now the star divine.                                                                                                                                                                                   Brighter and brighter he will shine.                                                                                                                                                                              Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

I love Christmas music. But this song is one of my favorites, no matter who sings it. It was our choir special yesterday. I really enjoy singing it. 

I think the reason that I like it so much is that it is a Christmas song but it isn’t. It reminds me that yes, the star that led the wise men to Jesus was important, but the Star that leds us now is even more important.

One thing, as a side note, about the star is that it shone for a long time. It appeared when Jesus was born and the wise men didn’t, technically, find Jesus until He was a toddler. That really bugs me that wise men are always shone at the manger scene when they weren’t there. Only the shepherds are recorded as seeing Him there that night. 

Ok, rant over. I’m off the soap box.

Anyway, this song brings me hope. It makes me smile. It reminds me that this isn’t all there is to it. It reminds me that I have the brightest, most beautiful Star lighting my path in this dark world. It reminds me that He has been here for those that have come before me and that He will be there for those after me, if He delays His coming. 

So today, as you listen to your music, listen to the words. The writer is trying to tell you something. That being said, you had better consider what and who it is you are listening to. Everything that goes into your brain affects you in some way, shape or form.